Europe’s V Day

May is an important month for Europe. A day in May back in 1945, the great war that had the whole world involved and put Europe at stake, came to an end. This year, seven decades later, the whole world remembers that date that changed the course of history. And not only do we remember that date, but we also remember all of those people, men and women who fought for liberty and made it possible for Europe to commemorate that day.

The 8th of May, 1945 is remembered as VE Day (Victory in Europe Day), the day that Nazi Germany signed its unconditional surrender to the Allied Forces of World War II. The Battle of Berlin, which started on the 20th of April 1945 after the strategic offensive by the Soviet Union on Nazi Berlin, was decisive. German forces surrendered and the Soviet Army rapidly declared victory Many nazi officers, including Adolf Hitler, committed suicide after the defeat.

Following Hitler’s suicide, on the 7th of May, the act of military surrender was signed in Eisenhower’s military headquarters. The following day, the Nazi unconditional surrender was signed in Berlin.

This year, we commemorate all of those people who made VE Day possible, all those men and women who fought for their liberty and against the nazi regime’s oppression.

World War II was a crucial moment in history, specially for women. Having most men in the battle front, they had to take over a range of job positions that had been left behind by them. And not only that, women also enrolled in the military.

“Soviet female pilots, women specialised in weapon manufacturing industries in North America, British spies, French fighters, German sanitary assistants, brave fighters for the liberty of Warsaw, Jewish victims of concentration camps or sexual slaves in Japan, women were, like men, active participants and, sometimes, victims of the world’s biggest conflict. The sole term of “total war” of both World Wars resulted in an increasing participation of women. This participation covered all action sectors, from industry in occupied territories to the front lines”. – Mariano Lázaro

Las damas del Día D.

In North America, World War II was a crucial moment for women  as men were called to the army and shipped to Europe or Asia Pacific to fight in the war fronts. This gave women to chance to overtake the specialized work men previously did. Women in America had the opportunity to savor the independence and liberation of receiving a salary they had never imagined. This led to having many women take jobs in a range of industries. The US government encouraged women to participate in the war effort and empowered them to work. The image of We can do it! became an icon of the time that moved millions of women outside their household and into the industry.

Thus, 70 years ago a group of American women made history by covering one of the most decisive days in history. Six war correspondents accredited by the US military made it to the front: Mary Welsh, Dixie Tighe, Kathleen Harriman, Helen Kirkpatrick, Lee Miller, and Tania Long.

At the time there was an unusual excitement among the reporters waiting in the city, in hotels like the elegant Dorchester Hotel, in the heart of London.

The glamorous group of correspondents from the US were part of the group, with the difference that they also had to fight on every front to overcome the prohibition of women who were in the line of war.

Of the six, Gellhorn had the exclusive when she got on a hospital ship in Normandy. She locked herself in a bathroom and became the first woman to report D-Day.

The intrepid journalist made her way to Europe at a young age. She left US at age 21 with $50. Her first experience as a war journalist was in the 30s in Spain covering the civil war with the man that would later on be her husband, Ernest Hemingway. He asked her why she did not write about the war and she said she did not know of weapons and battles to do so, to which he answered again, “write about what you know, and that’s people.” Soon after, her career as a war correspondent began.

On D-Day, Gellhorn wrote that “When night fell, floating ambulances were still looking around the beach in search of wounded. We walked to the shore with water at the waist.”

Like her, many others wrote about World War II or even changed the course of it. The role played by women in one of the most important wars in history, was crucial. It was them, women from all over the world, who helped entire nations recover.